Most novice, enthusiast, and wine aficionados are familiar with the standard 100-point scale used today to rate the quality of a wine. The 100-point scale is common place in national wine publications and is utilized at numerous wine competitions across the country. The 100-point scale was developed and first implemented by one of the most internationally recognized and respected wine advocates, Robert Parker.
As a fledging wine critic/writer in the early 1980s, Robert Parker decided to attach a score to every wine he tasted, judged, and reviewed. He based his scoring system on the grading scale from his earlier days in school. It was commonly known that 70 points or better on a test was a passing grade, 80 to 89 was a good to above average, and 90-plus was “A” quality. Initially, most wine writers and publications scorned Parker for trivializing wine, although, within two years they were all using Robert Parker’s 100 point scale. The Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits are among the highly respected wine publications that publish ratings based on the Robert Parker’s 100 point scale.
Does the 100-point wine exist?
Many of us have experienced the “100-point wine” at a party or an evening gathering with friends and family, but to Judges and Wine Critics, the 100-point wine is extremely rare. Only a few wines have ever been rated a perfect 100. The general guidelines most critics agree on are: Scores of 95-99 represent a truly great wine, the best of the best and a wine destined for legendary status. Wines scoring 91 to 94-points are highly recommended wines that definitely should be tried and are cellar worthy. The score of 90-points denotes a good wine or an “A minus” in Robert Parker’s book. In Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, wines over 80 are very good, over 90 are excellent and 95 points and above are outstanding! Not everyone agrees with all of Parker’s ratings, but if your tastes merge with his, anything over an 85 will make you happy.
What wine did Robert Parker award 100-Plus points?
Robert Parker in the Wine Advocate awarded "100-plus" points to the 2003 Domaine du Pegau Cuvée da Capo Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Over the years Robert Parker has awarded only 17 California wines the perfect score of 100 points. Stephen Tanzer on the other hand, has never given 100 points to a current release.
Originally published in the Wine Wizard section of our Gold Wine Club's monthly newsletter, KitFox Vineyards edition featured in 2007.